View Full Version : A Special Breed of Magic: 3.5 Homebrew

2009-06-16, 03:43 AM
So, recently I've been thinking about magic in D&D. I like the magic of D&D, but often, it's flashy and overly effective. I'm thinking of making an alternate, if slightly simplified, D&D, and was considering ways to make the spread of magic more equitable.

One of the things I thought of: Special, skill related magic. It's actually relatively common in fiction and video games.

In Order of the Stick, there is Paladin Magic: "The Honor of a Paladin is unbreakable." Soon established this magic, but he was no arcanist or even a Divine caster of any real power. (Who can call 4th level Paladin casting powerful?) But he had a point - the honor of a paladin transcends physical boundaries. Or at least, it did in that case.

In a TV show called ''Legend of the Seeker'' that I saw recently, there was a cartographer who was approached by bounty hunters. He was no real magician, but when the bounty hunters supplied him with a belonging of the person they wanted to track, he was able to make a map that showed where their quarry was.

In Harry Potter, there is a spell called Ligamens that could be it's own school of magic in it's own right. it pits the wills and concentration of two casters against one another, the mentally stronger of the two gaining access to the private thoughts of the other.

In fact, similar magic exists in Eragon - Sorcerer's summon spirits by dominating their will. They usually lack magic beyond the strength of will needed to dominate spirits, and the understanding of different types of spirits and how to contact them.

A similar trend pervades in the Belgariad by David Eddings, where Magicians take demons and use willpower to force them into an illusion. Demon summoning is dangerous, for the caster must remain undistracted and continuously attempt to hold the demon inside of his illusory form.

In Oblivion, the video game, a Warlock possesses the special ability to enter a dream reality. Despite the fact that the player could be a Mage with 100's in all magic related skills, the Warlock is using a magic that the player will never be able to replicate.

So, I am trying to figure out a way to implement this idea. It could possibly be used to balance out Wizards, and would be great for a more RP oriented game.

I suppose I would just throw all of this out here and see what other people said when they heard it get mentioned.

2009-06-16, 06:17 AM
This may help with what you have in mind, and it may help balance wizards, but it's not a 'big' idea... My group generally doesn't like change so I try to keep things simple.

Split magic into the 8 schools, then make wizards/sorcerers choose 3 schools at character creation. These are the only schools they have access to and anything outside of them is completely alien to them. Also give them the benefits of specialization for free with these three schools.

You could maybe let them access more schools by spending a feat but that idea is the same.

I did things a little differently but you may not care so it's under spoiler tags.

What I am actually doing is take this a step further by getting rid of clerics, druids, wizards, and sorcerers as different classes, and kept only one generic "mage" class.

Then I split all spells into categories based on effect, not school, like so
1. Healing
2. Black Magic
3. Damage
4. Mind-affecting
5. Illusion
6. Summoning
7. Protection
8. Divination
9. Enhancement
10. Curse
11. Nature
12. Arcanum

And I made the generic mage choose 4 of these at character creation.

This gives you things like the druid (Nature, Damage, Healing, Summoning) and the necromancer (Black Magic, Curse, Divination, Arcanum) and each caster is different from the other.

Then they can spend powers to gain access to new "spheres" of magic and someone can, given time and study, learn every spell - but most won't really care.

In addition, each sphere is 'governed' (to use the Oblivion term) by a different ability score when it comes to Saving Throw DCs, so mages with high Intelligence are better off with Damage and Illusion while mages with high Charisma are the best when it comes to using the Mind-Affecting sphere.

But all that may be too much work for something that can be done by restricting spell schools. It's also specific to my setting where Divine and Arcane magic aren't two different things.

2009-06-16, 06:24 AM
The ''may balance mages'' thing was less my aim than ''give people without magic a supernatural/magical ability in relation to what they do.''

The Paladins in OOTS were possessed of such honor, they had the magical ability to manifest after death to defend that which they swore an oath to protect.

The Cartographer on TV was just a mapmaker, but he was so good at it, he'd found a way to track individuals using their possessions without studying magic as a whole for years before.

So, perhaps a Barbarian might develop the ability to whip allies into a rage magically, or someone with Craft (Tailoring) could develop the magical talent to make clothing change to provide minor bonuses - like a cloak that changed colors to blend in, granting a +4 circumstance bonus to the wearer's Hide check. The Tailor could be a Rogue, but if he's good enough - say, 10 to 13 ranks in the skill - he's able to pull off something magical without real magical training.

Make more sense?

2009-06-16, 06:29 AM
I see what you mean... but that may be best handled on a case-by-case basic by the DM. An example would be the barbarian who throws himself at an abyssal portal and sacrifices his life, then his blood actually seals it even though he had no spellcaster levels.

And the rogue who enters Barbarian Rage when he sees his best buddy get killed even though he doesn't have any barbarian levels.

You can give your players tricks like that but I would restrict them to special situations so as not to cheapen them.